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Weeks v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 6, 2014

CASSANDRA WEEKS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, DENNIS HUBERTS, RICHARD ANTONSEN, MICHAEL KOCANDA, GREGORY SLOYAN, ANTHONY HICKS, and BRANDON SMITH, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge.

Cassandra Weeks has filed suit against the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers Sergeant Gregory Sloyan, Dennis Huberts, Richard Antonsen, Michael Kocanda, Anthony Hicks, and Brandon Smith pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The lawsuit concerns events related to the search of Weeks's home and her subsequent arrest on August 31, 2012. Weeks alleges that the defendants violated her Fourth Amendment rights by obtaining an unjustified search warrant for her house, failing to knock and announce their office, damaging her property, arresting her, and stealing a television. Weeks has also brought state law claims for trespass and malicious prosecution.

Defendants have moved for summary judgment against Weeks on all of her claims. For the reasons detailed below, the Court grants summary judgment for defendants on the claims for obtaining the search warrant and unreasonable property damage, as well as the state law trespass claim, and for three of the defendants on the claim involving theft of the television. The Court denies defendants' motion on the remaining claims and defendants.

Background

On August 31, 2012, officers Huberts, Antonsen, Kocanda, Hicks, and Smith, along with Sergeant Sloyan, executed a search warrant for the premises of 10525 S. Bensley, which was Weeks's residence. Officer Huberts obtained the search warrant based on interactions with a confidential witness beginning on August 27, 2012, when the witness, referred to as John Doe, informed Huberts that a man named Kevin Rogers was selling drugs at 10525 S. Bensley.

To corroborate Doe's statements, Huberts showed him an array of booking photographs, and Doe correctly identified a photo of Rogers. Huberts also obtained a number of pictures of residences from the Cook County Assessor's website, and Doe correctly identified the residence that matched the address he had provided to Huberts. Huberts then drove Doe to the area of 10525 S. Bensley, and Doe verified both the residence and the door through which he had entered to engage in the drug transactions. For further verification, Huberts performed a background check on Kevin Rogers, which revealed that he had been arrested for possession of narcotics at 10525 S. Bensley in January 2012.

With this information in hand, Huberts began compiling a complaint for a search warrant, and Doe signed an affidavit to include with the complaint. In the affidavit, Doe stated that he observed Kevin Rogers sell approximately one pound of cannabis at the 10525 S. Bensley residence. Doe also stated that he had purchased cannabis on numerous occasions from Rogers during the prior year. He stated that he continued to purchase cannabis from Rogers because it consistently produced a euphoric high for his customers.

In addition to Doe's affidavit regarding his first-hand observations, the complaint for search warrant referenced Doe's positive identification of Rogers from a photo spread and his positive identification of the house when taken to the location. The information regarding Roger's previous arrest at 10525 S. Bensley was not typed into the complaint for search warrant. At some point in time, however, Huberts added a handwritten note on the complaint for search warrant stating that "[o]n more than one previous occasion Kevin Rogers... has used the address of 10525 S Bensley when arrested." Defs.' Ex. B at QH 014. This was incorrect; Rogers had given 10525 S. Bensley as his address in connection with only one arrest. Finally, the complaint recited that Huberts provided Doe's criminal history to the judge. Weeks agrees that at the time he provided the information to Huberts, Doe was not in police custody or under arrest and had no charges pending against him.

On August 28, Huberts and John Doe appeared before Judge Angela Petrone with the complaint for search warrant and Doe's criminal history. Huberts testified during his deposition that it was during his appearance before Judge Petrone that he added the handwritten note about Rogers's purported previous arrests at 10525 S. Bensley. Judge Petrone signed a warrant authorizing a search of the premises of 10525 S. Bensley.

The six defendants and other officers arrived at 10525 S. Bensley to execute the warrant on August 31, 2012. The officers claim that they knocked on the front door and announced their office multiple times. They say that after they waited and no one responded, the officers breached the door with a battering ram. Iesha Warren, a neighbor of Weeks, provides a competing account of the entry into the house. Warren reports that she witnessed the entire proceedings while sitting on her porch, where she could see Weeks's house. Warren claims that the police officers broke down the door immediately upon approaching the house. During this entry, the door frame was damaged.

The police entered Weeks's residence and cleared the house room by room. The officers say they then took pictures of the house to document its condition before they executed the search warrant. Then they searched the house. Weeks says that during the search, the police vandalized her possessions, left her rooms in disarray, and poured out cereal. The officers say that a drug detection dog alerted to the presence of narcotics near a dresser in the rear bedroom. They contend that after searching the room, they found several small baggies of suspect heroin located in a cup on a shelf of the same dresser and a bag of cannabis in one of the dresser's drawers. Weeks disputes the presence of the drugs in her room prior to the search; she claims that the police planted the drugs.

Iesha Warren notified Weeks that the police had entered her home. Weeks, accompanied by her cousin Kilyla Carter, returned to 10525 S. Bensley. Weeks verified to the officers that she lived at 10525 S. Bensley and allegedly denied that Kevin Rogers lived there. The police then showed Weeks the suspect heroin and the cannabis, informing her that they had been found in the dresser in the rear bedroom. Sergeant Sloyan and officer Huberts, and possibly officer Smith, placed Weeks under arrest.

During this time, Warren and Carter both claim to have seen police officers removing a flat-screened television from Weeks's house. Warren says she saw two Hispanic police officers in uniform carrying a television in the backyard of the property. Carter remained on the premises during the entire episode; she claims she saw two officers in plain clothes taking the television out of the back of the house and through the garage before placing it in the back of a Crown Victoria parked in an alley behind the home. She said she believes the officers were African-American, but she is not entirely certain of that. Weeks says that when she returned to her home after her release from custody, she says, the flat-screened television from her basement was missing. Five officers recall going into the basement; two of these officers are not Caucasian. The officers, however, deny removing a television from the house, and 'photographs that Sergeant Sloyan says were taken after the search show the television still in Weeks's basement.

The police tested the suspect heroin, and the lab results came back negative. Ultimately the charges against Weeks were dropped. Weeks later filed this lawsuit against the defendants.

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When the court rules on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). ""Summary judgment is inappropriate if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248. When considering the record on summary ...


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